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January, It's a Coming, Like It or Not!

By: dragonflyF15 , 9:23 PM GMT on December 26, 2012

January's Garden Tasks
Garden? In January for zones 4-6? It's easy to forget about the gardens, but now is the time to reflect on last season's garden and start planning for spring, not to mention a few things to check on outside. Also with more time spent indoors is a good time to care for those houseplants!

-To clean heavily encrusted clay pots, scrub them with a steel wool pad after they have soaked overnight in a solution consisting of one gallon of water, and one cup each of white vinegar and household beach.
-Some plants are sensitive to the fluorine and chlorine in tap water. Water containers should stand overnight to allow these gases to dissipate before using on plants.
-Wash the dust off of house plant leaves on a regular basis. This allows the leaves to gather light more efficiently and will result in better growth.
-Set the pots of humidity-loving house plants on trays filled with pebbles and water. Pots should sit on the pebbles, not in the water.
-Allow tap water to warm to room temperature before using on houseplants.
-Fluffy, white mealy bugs on house plants are easily killed by touching them with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol.
-Insecticidal soap sprays can be safely applied to most house plants for the control of many insect pests.
-Quarantine new gift plants to be sure they do not harbor any insect pests.
-Amaryllis aftercare: Remove spent flower after blooming. Set the plant in a bright sunny window to allow the leaves to fully develop. Keep the soil evenly moist, not soggy. Fertilize occasionally with a general purpose houseplant formulation.


-Gently brush off heavy snows from tree and shrub branches.
-Limbs damaged by ice or snow should be pruned off promptly to prevent bark from tearing.
-Check stored summer bulbs such as dahlias, cannas and gladiolus to be sure they are not rotting or drying out.
-To reduce injury, allow ice to melt naturally from plants. Attempting to remove ice may damage plants further.
-Use sand, bird seed, sawdust or vermiculite to gain traction on icy paths. Avoid salt or ice melters as these may injure plants.
-Make an inventory of the plants in your home landscape. Note their location and past performance. Plan changes on paper now.
-Sow pansy seeds indoors now.


-Avoid foot traffic on frozen lawns as this may injure turf grasses.
-Make a resolution to keep records of your garden this year.
-Store wood ashes in sealed, fireproof containers. Apply a dusting around lilacs, baby's breath, asters, lilies and roses in spring. Do not apply to acid-loving plants. Excess ashes may be composted.
-Check all fruit trees for evidence of rodent injury to bark. Use baits or traps where necessary.
-Cakes of suet hung in trees will attract insect-hunting woodpeckers to your garden.
-Brightly colored paints applied to the handles of tools will make them easier to locate in the garden.
-Seed and nursery catalogs arrive. While reviewing garden catalogs, look for plants with improved insect, disease and drought-tolerance.
-Old Christmas trees can be recycled outdoors as a feeding station for birds. String garlands of peanuts, popcorn, cranberries, fruits and suet through their boughs.
-Christmas tree boughs can be used to mulch garden perennials.
-If you didn't get your bulbs planted before the ground froze, plant them immediately in individual peat pots and place the pots in flats. Set them outside where it is cold and bury the bulbs under thick blankets of leaves. Transplant them into the garden any time weather permits.
-Try sprouting a test sample of left-over seeds before ordering new seeds for spring. (Roll up 10 seeds in a damp paper towel. Keep moist and warm. Check for germination in a week. If fewer than half sprout, order fresh seed.)
-Swap seeds and plant information with your gardening friends.

Recommended reading:
Smith and Hawken, The Hands On Gardener
Pruning (Clipping with Confidence)
by Robert Kourik

Long considered one of the most daunting tasks in the garden, pruning is first and foremost a simple caretaking craft. And armed with the information in this book plus rudimentary set of tools, it is a skill that any gardener can easily learn. The illustrations are awesome and this book is so simple and practical for gardeners of every level!


"I prefer winter and fall, when you feel the bone structure of the landscape - the loneliness of it, the dead feeling of winter. Something waits beneath it, the whole story doesn't show." ~Andrew Wyeth

Happy Gardening!

The views of the author are his/her own and do not necessarily represent the position of The Weather Company or its parent, IBM.

Reader Comments

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11. WunderAlertBot (Admin)
11:35 PM GMT on February 05, 2013
dragonflyF15 has created a new entry.
10. dragonflyF15
6:44 PM GMT on January 04, 2013
Thanks everyone for the New Year wishes! So far it's been most excellent to me :)

Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
9. shoreacres
2:11 PM GMT on January 01, 2013
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8. juslivn
7:44 AM GMT on January 01, 2013
a href="Peacenewyear" target="_blank">">
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7. palmettobug53
2:12 AM GMT on January 01, 2013
Currier and Ives

We spend January 1 walking through our lives, room by room, drawing up a list of work to be done, cracks to be patched. Maybe this year, to balance the list, we ought to walk through the rooms of our lives... not looking for flaws, but for potential.

~ Ellen Goodman

Wishing you and yours a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
6. GardenGrrl
11:03 AM GMT on December 31, 2012
Happy New Year!
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5. sandiquiz
10:03 AM GMT on December 31, 2012

Dragon - I do hope 2013 is a very happy, healthy and safe year for you and your family.
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4. GardenGrrl
5:29 PM GMT on December 27, 2012
Hi, it's now the dream season for gardening. I'm gonna maybe plan a sprinkler system for the yard. After I get anchor plantings in the raised bed will put in a drip irrigation system.

Trying to simplify my yard to be pretty, xeric and low maintenance.

The pebbles, water and tray work great for my carniverous plants. Bought cheap clear plastic trays with raised center. Filled with pebbles. Used regular store bought decorative peat moss and found outside moss to put on top of pebbles. Plant sits on raised center island. Looks really cool and boggy.
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3. shoreacres
1:23 PM GMT on December 27, 2012
I love that photo, and the quotation from Andrew Wyeth. I loved the tips, too. Despite my non-gardening life, I found some I needed this year. I received an amaryllis for Christmas, so it will be fun to deal with that. And, I'm cleaning up two copper trays for the water and pebbles trick. Finally, I just noticed that my old Christmas cactus are really, really dusty. I guess they need a bath rather than a dusting. They may need splitting after the bloom is finished, too. They're so big at this point they're almost too heavy to lift - which may be why they're dusty!

Like you, I'm in the process of making some resolutions myself. Even if I don't keep them perfectly, the process of making them is valuable.
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2. airman45
10:44 AM GMT on December 27, 2012
Hi DF!

Too bad (I guess) you missed out on the snowstorm. After the 2009-2010 blizzards we had in Nebraska I can't say I miss them. Had a record high of 61F in Stuttgart, Germany Christmas day. Sunny also. Of course it quickly changed back to cool (40's) rainy and windy yesterday and today. But no freezing temps are forecast for at least another week. Never can keep a warm temp here for very long!

Have a great New Year and take care!
Member Since: December 31, 1969 Posts: Comments:
1. dragonflyF15
9:25 PM GMT on December 26, 2012
I'm not one to usually make resolutions, but this 2013, I decided to make some goals. Hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season and thank you's to all who sent me cards for the holidays and my birthday, that was a surprise in the mailbox! E-cards too :)

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About dragonflyF15

40yrOld Horticulturist,which means I'm a plant/tree/shrub Geek.My work revolves around Mother N and weather.I love working,playing,resting outdoors!

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